As the shocking practices of factory farms are brought to light, people are becoming more conscious of the treatment of animals. Although many may never live a vegan lifestyle, they are more likely to cut back on meat consumption or shop for organic products. However, avoiding the horrors of big business farming reaches way beyond the pantry. The number of non-edible items that contain animal products is mind-blowing. While manufacturers in some industries have become more responsive, there are several others that haven’t. Here are 20 everyday items that you would never imagine containing animal-derived ingredients:
1. Plastic Bags
Yet another reason to hate plastic bags, they contain animal fat. During the process of making plastic bags, and immediately after, slip agents are used to provide surface lubrication. Although the additive is compounded into the plastic as an internal lubricant, it gradually migrates to the surface. If climate change didn’t motivate you, perhaps the thought of carrying your fruits and veggies in an animal fat sack will persuade you take re-usable bags to the grocery store or farmer’s market.
The process for making soft plywood involves combining blood glue, a slaughterhouse byproduct, with soybean protein. This type of wood is used to make several products, such as the desk, chair or table you may be seated at this moment.
Although latex comes from a plant, most condoms also contain casein, a milk protein and glycerin, made from animal fat. Then there are the very obvious, lambskin condoms, which are made from the intestines of lambs and sheep. No worries. There’s no reason to fret. This doesn’t mean that you must lead a life of celibacy or risk contracting an STD. There are 100% vegan approved condoms available, such as Glyde condoms. Order them online and talk to your local store managers about carrying them for more convenience.
Beyond the numerous injuries sustained by people each year, fireworks bring far worse suffering to animals during the manufacturing process. They contain stearic acid, which comes from the fatty tissue of animals. It is used to coat the metal powders to prevent oxidation, allowing compositions to be stored for a longer period of time. Have you ever been close enough during a fireworks show to have little bits and pieces rain down on you? The memory of it now kind of feels like the scene in Carrie when she gets a bucket of pig blood dumped on her at prom. Huh?
5. Nail Polish
The secret ingredient that makes nail polish sparkle is fish scales; Herring to be exact. The iridescent qualities of the scales make them “ideal” for grinding up into glitter. Nail polish may also contain stearic acid, glycerol and cochineal, or crushed bugs, all animal byproducts. With a small amount of research, you can easily find cruelty-free alternatives.
Some tools may have leather covered handles, but even if your hammer or screwdriver has no visible hide, animal byproducts were still used in the manufacturing process. Plastic and rubber components use animal fat as slip agents. Also, some tools with moving parts have lubricants to cut down on the friction of metal parts. These lubricants also contain animal derived ingredients.
Although most people would not be shocked to know that some candles are made from beeswax, most don’t know that Spermaceti, or sperm oil is also an ingredient. No, it’s not that kind of sperm. It refers to the fat obtained from the head of Sperm Whales, or occasionally dolphins. This process is much less pleasant for our sea-faring friends than having some creepy human coming around to give them happy endings every day. (Not that their sperm is wasted. It can be found in several beauty products, and sadly, isn’t harvested happy-ending style.)
Toothpaste gets its texture from glycerin, although it can come from plants, it is much less expensive and more likely to be taken from extracting the fat from animal bones. Eww!! That’s like brushing your teeth with lard. Since most labels simply state “glycerin” as an ingredient, the only way to know which type is used in a product is to do your research. Not feeling so minty fresh anymore? For vegan-friendly products try Tom’s of Maine.
Most paints use casein, a milk protein, as a binding agent. In addition to casein, certain pigments may contain other animal derived ingredients. Black bone pigment is one of the main ones, which comes from ground cattle bones.
10. Cologne and Perfume
Some cologne contains the musk from animals, such as deer, civet cats, sperm whales and beavers. For those of you who are unaware, musk or scent sacs are located in the ass area. This is what dogs are actually scratching when they do that butt crawl thing across the carpet. Now that you have that lovely picture in your head, remember the last time you kissed someone’s neck and got the bitter taste of cologne in your mouth. Yuck!!!
Just when you were ready to return to the innocence of childhood, think again. Crayons contain tallow, or processed beef fat. That’s actually what gives them that crayon-y smell. (Sorry for ruining your childhood memories.)
12. Wood Glue
If you play a wooden instrument, own furniture or live in a house you are in contact with wood glue. This specific glue is made from the connective tissue of horses.
13. Shampoo and Conditioner
There are numerous animal products that can be found in shampoo and conditioner. When you read “Panthenol”, “Amino Acids”, or “Vitamin B”, to name a few, it can be animal or plant derived – making it hard to determine. On top of this, there is a new trend of using products containing keratin, which is protein from hooves, horns, and animal hair. It can also be obtained from turtle shells, claws or scales, depending on the strength or hardness desired by the manufacturer. Look for cruelty-free symbols, such as a rabbit, to be certain a product has no animal byproducts.
14. Paint Brushes
Most ladies know to be aware of what type of makeup brushes to use. The same diligence needs to be extended to home improvement products as well. Along with hide glue contained in the wooden handles of paint brushes, any bristles that claim to be “natural” are made from animal fur.
15. Fabric Softener
The ingredient that makes your clothes feel fluffy soft is dehydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride. This very lengthy and sneaky way for manufacturers to hide animal byproducts is the fat rendered from cattle, sheep and horses boiled down and mixed with ammonia. Bet that annoying little bear wouldn’t be so damn giggly if it knew that tidbit of information. So, unless you specifically purchase a vegan-friendly brand, you can be sure that you are washing or drying your clothes in animal fat.
Manufacturers of car and bicycle tires use stearic acid, taken from animal fat, to help tires hold their shape under steady surface friction. If you were ready to start hoofing it around town after this revelation, hold up… your running shoes likely contain the same ingredient.
Photographic film for cameras and x-rays contain bone gelatin, which acts as a binding agent. This is a great reason to go digital… and to not break your bones.
By now you’ve probably already thought about the plastic case that houses the deodorant, but the deodorant itself is made up of more than toxic chemicals. It also contains beeswax, glycerin and perfumes (remember the animal scent sacs). However, there’s no reason to turn into a hippie and walk around all stinky. There are vegan-friendly deodorants available, which are not only cruelty-free, but much safer for humans as well.
As you are preparing to go running from the room and wash away the remnants of dead animals clinging to your body, stop and check your soap first. More likely than not, it contains glycerin and casein, both of which derive from animals.
Yes, even the computer you are using to read this article contains animal byproducts. The plastic and rubber components contain stearic acid, which is used to stabilize them against heat, just like in tires. There is good news if you own a MAC, however. Since Steve Jobs was a fruitarian and major animal rights activists, Apple products strive to be as vegan-friendly as possible, down to the use of vegetable-based ink.
Getting to know where animal products go is important for omnivores as well as vegans and vegetarians. These byproducts are not sourced from responsible organic farmers, but from the extremely polluting and damaging factory farms. Big business farms are only concerned with their bottom line, and have no conscience when it comes to animal cruelty. The unwavering goal of making money from every single piece of each animal once it is slaughtered also perpetuates the use of plastics, and this affects us all. While there’s no way to be 100% animal-free, we can strive to educate ourselves about the products we use, and remember that humans are also animals. Cruelty-free extends to us as well.